Turns out, I want/need more Jesus. Who knew?

Turns out, I need Jesus

These last few months, as you know, have been hard, hard, hard. It’s a special kind of hell, watching your child fight for his life. Worrying about his survival. Helplessly witnessing his suffering.

It’s been more than my body and soul can bear some days.

I ache for peace. I long for something to give me strength during this trying time. But what?

As a lifelong Christian, I understand that the answer is supposed to be “Jesus,” or something along those lines.

But here’s the thing. And it’s embarrassing. Jesus has been largely absent from my life for several years. (And I write a blog about participating in Jesus’ radical Kingdom. Huh.)

I’ve retained the name of Christian, and in principle I’ve tried to live according to Christian teachings. Being kind to others, caring for the earth, talking about God, reading the occasional spiritual book.

But I’ve also spent the last few years feeling very cynical about the Church. I’ve lost interest in the Bible, in listening to spiritual music, in praying, in attending church services. Those things all felt kind of . . . lame. I was sick of pastors guilt-tripping us to do these things. I had no real internal drive to do them. So I let them go, living essentially as a functional atheist who admires Jesus from afar.

So in this time of extreme anxiety and grief I’ve been unable to find any real source of comfort. I mean, I take comfort in my husband’s presence, the love of my friends and family, etc. But I’ve longed for something a little more . . . transcendent. I want reassurance that this agony is something small and temporary within something else that is eminently good and eternal. Because it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.

I’ve been finding myself . . . wanting to listen to music with spiritual lyrics. (I don’t think I’ve really done that since I got married nine years ago.) It feels weird, to be honest. Goofy, even. Me? Christian music? Aren’t I too hip for that now?

I’m starting to crave the wise words of spiritual men and women. I even want to read the Bible, the most boring and confusing of books, convinced it must have some words of comfort in there somewhere. Doesn’t Jesus talk about a peace that passes understanding and stuff like that? Eternal life? I could desperately use some eternal life right now.

I’m finding myself in an awkward place these days. I really, really want Jesus. For realz. I want  the Son of God. I want Eternal Life. I need the great I Am, the one who promises joy to those who mourn, strength for the weak. The one who loves the saddest, most pathetic creatures best of all.

For the first time in my life I am so weak. So stupid. I have so much grief. For once in my life, I actually NEED the things that Jesus promises.

I know that Jesus’ favourite people are the most pitiful ones, the most wretched ones. For once, I’m in that camp. That’s me.

I’m desperate. I acknowledge that I have been so full of pride. I have been so ignorant. I need help. I can’t do this on my own. (And all those other cliches from Christian songs I’ve never connected to.)

Turns out, I need Jesus. Not only that, I want him.

All this time as a Christian and I’ve never been here before.

I’ve never been desperate for Jesus before. Why would I have been? I was perfectly happy and healthy and capable of taking care of myself.  I’ve never really connected to hymns and psalms for that reason.

It took suffering for me to realize how badly I need Him. So I guess some good things always come from bad ones.

(*Note: I wrote the draft of this post several weeks ago when things were really bad. Things have been much, much better in the last few weeks. We are so full of hope for Felix’s future. Just wanted you to know that.*)

Image courtesy of frankenschulz via Flickr.
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  1. Kathleen, you are not alone.
    I was brought up Christian and had a wonderful faith despite a violent father.
    I got married to a really nice man and led a wonderful secular life. I had full control over my happiness and even though I did not stop believing, there was no focus on my spiritual life.

    My son was born with major birth problems and I began to pray. I am sorry to say I prayed for 3 years and when all ended well, I went back to my life and Jesus was lost in the every day business of being wife and mother.

    I happily ignored my faith until my second son became embroiled in drugs and suddenly nothing of this wold was important any more. He became depressed and was a suicide risk.My mother prayed for my son for three weeks and then she rang me to say, God told her all was ok.
    My son called to see my mother and she shared her faith with hoping. He became a Christian, gave up all drugs, gave up his lifestyle, got baptised and said that the next time he sleeps with a woman it will be his wife.

    I could no longer ignore The Lord God and his son. What a gift he had still given me.
    My faith is restored and I now actively participate in the church and build on my faith.

    He has performed 2 miracles in my life and I will not turn my back on him again

    So God Bless you and your family

    Sending prayers and warm hugs from Australia.

  2. My life was very messed up when I came to know Jesus PERSONALLY—as in knowing His love for me. It’s a journey. This past year about 10 years later I’m seeing more and more of the Father’s love. It gets better and better the closer we grow to Him. I too am not a huge fan of most churches but I LOVE Jesus and I try to love His people but I do see a lot of religion in church and I’m not a fan of religion. What helps is remembering Jesus wasn’t a fan of the religious leaders of His day either. The Pharisees…so I always remember He came for a relationship not religion or just what we could “do for Him”. He gave His life for a relationship with us. I love this blog post and I can relate.

  3. Coriander says:

    I will thank God for the good things He is giving you in desiring Him and in hope and better health for your darling little boy!

  4. I completely understand Kathleen,
    Wait till he whispers your name . . .! Blessings to you.
    julie recently posted..Coming Up CopperMy Profile

  5. Thank you for speaking your heart into my heart. I so needed these words today. Your brutal honesty in admitting what most Christians go through, but pretend they don’t, is refreshing and encouraging.

  6. I so, so needed to hear these precious words today. Thank you for speaking from your heart.

  7. It’s so easy to let something become a substitute for that relationship, isn’t it? Some people let the praise songs and the rules of how we should behave and dress drown out Jesus; others of us let cynicism and social justice and pet causes shout over him. And there’s nothing wrong with any of it, praise songs or skirt wearing or mission work or creation care, but none of it’s as important as that relationship, and when we let them become our focus, we become, as you say, functional atheists, no matter what sort of glossy Christian/radical love/spiritual sheen we coat on top of it. (And I’m there too, it’s always a battle, I’m not criticizing!)

    And that illusion that we can take care of ourselves is so seductive, and so dangerous. We can’t. We can’t control our lives on earth and we can’t control our lives after death. But it sure seems like I’m managing the daily details just fine on my own, thankyouverymuch, so surely I can manage my way into heaven, too.

    Anyway. I guess maybe losing some of our cynicism is part of that accepting the kingdom of heaven “like a little child” thing. But it just feels. so. goofy.

  8. Hello Kathleen,
    I am so sorry about everything you and you loved ones have gone through thus far and are still going through. I could say more but I’m hoping to keep it short. When I first heard about your son I started reading your blog but have never commented before. I almost commented on a post you wrote a while back titled, “Jesus in not my personal Saviour.” One reason I did not comment is because in another post you had written that people should not share things of spiritual nature with another person unless that person asks for it. Well in this post, I feel as though you are “asking” for advice or looking for an answer. It seems to me that you possibly do not know the Gospel that is portrayed in the New Testament. This Gospel – good news – is for people that the New Testament calls sinners. Jesus Christ was a friend of sinners. He ate with them, He drank with them, He visited them in their homes, He loved them. He loved and loves all sinners so much that He wants them to have what you seem to desire so much – eternal life! Since He knew that sin simply separates us from God because of His holy nature, He knew He would have to do something about our sin. Since we already sinned, there was absolutely nothing we could do to help ourselves. Jesus Christ decided that He would take our sins upon Himself and take the punishment that we deserved for committing them. This is unfathomable! Why would Jesus Christ, the perfect sinless spotless Son of God go through God’s wrath in the place of sinners? That is how much He loves you and I. Because Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross, He is able to extend a gift to us. This gift is the forgiveness of our sins – all of them, past, present, and future. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. When sin is removed we are no longer separated from God – our Creator, our Father. When we rely on Christ -His finished work at the cross, to reunite us with God instead of relying on anything we try to do, God sees that we agree with Him – that we are satisfied that His Son’s work is sufficient to redeem us. I find it so amazing that I tried for years to “live the Christian life” but never had peace only to find out that eternal life cannot be obtained through anything of myself. The moment I found out that Jesus Christ wrought His work of salvation for me, to give it to me as a gift, I was absolutely dumbfounded! I thought what is this? I don’t have to do anything? Christ did it all? Yes! How joyful and relieved I was to finally accept His gift – not my work but His precious work for me. This is where eternal life began for me. John 17 states that “this is eternal life, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” We cannot be reconciled to God until after our sins have been dealt with. So a person can only begin knowing God after they have received His Son’s gift. And this business of knowing God is like any other relationship – the more you spend time with the person, the more you get to know them. Spending time with God who created you, knows you, and loves you is a priceless thing. I hope these words have been of help to you. I hope you find what you are searching for. May you find hope in this description of Jesus Christ: Hebrews 4:15,16. Praying for you, Felix and your family.

  9. I wonder if that feeling of wanting more of a connection with Jesus, is the feeling of Him reaching out to you when you need it?

    Thank you of sharing this.

  10. Kathleen…I’m celebrating with you for the revelation you’ve had!!! The suffering you’ve endured, drove you to Him. AMEN…that’s wonderful! Many Christians never come to this revelation through their suffering. They blame God,, harden their hearts, and look to the world for comfort. But you, sister, see Jesus now in all of this, and that’s beautiful! It’s what all problems are meant to accomplish for us on this side of Heaven…That we may know Him and want Him. The person of Jesus, His Life for our Life, nothing added to him and nothing subtracted. No religion, but Jesus…his strength for our weakness…moment-by-moment.

  11. Hi Kathleen,
    So glad to hear you are going home soon. I prayed for you to conceive Felix at the same time you were praying for me to be able to conceive Lily(who just turned 6 months!) I have been praying for Felix’s life and for your family. I can’t wait to meet you face to face in heaven. I feel similarly to your sentiments expressed here. Christian music is a hard one for me because most of it sounds so so dang cheesy but I too crave the message and lyrics! I found two christian artists through my husband and I really want you to look them up today. Josh Garrels just put out an album “Home” that has been so on point for us and I think the song Arrow on that Album is for you (the album is free on band camp) https://joshgarrels.bandcamp.com/album/home-2 the second artist is Stephen Delopolous (sp??) he is very talented and his music is truly an art and a prayer. Please email me if you would like to talk-I am your sister! Glad to be praying with you “OUR Father who is in heaven…” Peace be with you sweet sister.

  12. This was so encouraging to read and I completely relate! I grew up in a Christian home–my Dad is a Pastor, and while it never occurred to me not to be a christian, for a long time God was this nebulous force in the sky that I knew I was supposed to obey but didn’t have any idea how to have a connection or relationship with Him. But thank Jesus He drew me to Himself, and changed my life forever. It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything because once you experience what and who you were created for, and realize that this amazing God not only loves you, but also has atoned for your sins and has a plan for your life…it something you can’t turn away from. If you’re longing for Jesus–the real thing, not just who others say He is, He’s already drawing you to Himself–so keep asking and keep seeking because He promises in his word that you WILL find Him, He WILL reveal Himself to you. It may not happen all at once, or the way you expected it to, but it will happen. Praying for you, my sister in Christ, and so excited about this journey He’s taking you on!

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